Social Influencers vs. Subject Matter Experts? Who will amplify your tertiary education content more effectively?

Jul 15
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Ever wondered why the three weird* witches from Shakespeare’s Macbeth never appear apart? The symbolism adheres to the old English word “wryd” meaning “fate”.  Your content marketing success is also tied in threes:

  • Content Strategy
  • Content Creation
  • Content Amplification

For the sake of this blog, let’s assume you have mapped your Content Strategy and created relevant Content. You are now ready to deliver.

So how should you go about amplifying your content within a tertiary organisation?

  • Post it to your owned media assets? Definitely!
  • Promote it via paid distribution? Maybe.
  • Promote it via a Subject Matter Expert’s channel? Possibly.

Why influencers are better for ROI

The three tactics listed above are practically torn straight out of any social media playbook. But, for argument’s sake, what about skipping the latter two and focusing on channeling your content to influencers?

If I were a betting man – and beside the Melbourne Cup and Anzac-Day Two-Up traditions, where it’s borderline unconstitutional to not “ava punt” – then I reckon (bear with me as I continue on the Aussie vernacular train of “reckon”, instead of the more fancied marketing play of “recommend”) an Influencer can deliver a better ROI.

The battleground for likes

Although what I’m about to say feels kinda like an oxymoron (don’t you just love that word?) given I’m a content jedi who thrives on the benefits of digital – the truth is that word-of-mouth is still king.

Park the power of Subject Matter Experts, for a moment. (I know, I know… I can hear the cries of “he’s mad” all the way across the ocean and onto the very bus in which I am currently typing this blog whilst crawling through the rugged mountains of West Java). But if we take a step back and view technology in its purest form as an Enabler then word-of-mouth is more powerful than ever before.

As Juntae Delane recently penned on Twitter: Are you more likely to trust your friend’s recommendation on a movie over a critic? Your friend, you’d hope, should know you better than a critic and therefore is more likely to inspire action.  “Hey, Roghan, have you seen the new Jurassic Park movie? The special effects will blow-your-mind.” Bam, where can I buy a ticket? Talk about conversion.

Sure, this is not always the case, but if we apply this principle into the tertiary education sector where students, at least undergraduates, are like sponges then seeding your content with a core Influencer is more likely to win the noisy battleground for shares and likes.

How do you identify influencers?

Post a series of questions to your different social media groups and see which members respond.

The active participants may be your best opportunity to morph fans into evangelists!  (LEGO Ambassadors Network, while not tertiary education, was a good example of this).

The skill of identifying an influencer can be supported by a comprehension of the makeup of sharing.  Check this great infographic on the Psychology of Sharing by Stratpo is a good departure point in your journey of understanding the shares.

Quick-fire facts for identifying influencers

  • 90% of content is generated by 2% of Twitter users.
  • 23% of users check Facebook 5 or more times per day
  • 25% of Facebook users don’t bother with privacy settings.
  • 85% of people feel more connected to an organisation when following them.

Ohio State University makes the most of its Influencers

Ohio State University identified that many of its Alumni were highly interactive and engaged members of their Facebook audience. The OSU Alumni were not only liking photos, but also trading “student-day” stories from their past, without encouragement from the University’s social media team.

To capture this opportunity, OSU posted pics of its residence halls to Facebook and asked the Alumni to share stories and tag themselves in the images to mark which building they had resided in. The reply was tremendous.  

OSU - Post

So, you are now liked! Great… but what next?


The next conference in the Social Media in Tertiary Education series will take place in February 2016 – book soon to secure your place!

Social Media in Tertiary Education 2016


Submitted by Roghan McKerlie

Roghan McKerlie

With more than 15 years experience in the fields of content creation and strategy (including print, TV and digital), Roghan is a certified Digital Content Jedi who loves designing relevant narratives to engage your target audience (wherever, whenever and however they want to ingest content).

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